Google announces new Pixel 2, home speakers

In the world of technology, fall is the season of new releases. Last month, Apple introduced the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X. However, Apple is not the only company releasing phones this fall.

The new Google Pixel 2, which has been available for pre order since Oct. 4,  has noteworthy camera features. It can take portrait mode photos via both its front and rear single-lens cameras. Portrait mode has become very popular after the release of the iPhone 7 Plus, as it has a 12 megapixel dual camera. This creates an auto-blur background on a person’s portrait.

The Google Pixel 2 also comes with a dual-pixel sensor. Each pixel documents the image and regulates focus. DxOMark gave the Google Pixel 2 camera a score of 98, which beat the 94 score of both the iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

There is a reason for this rating. Technology desk editor Leo Kelion from BBC News explains, “The single-lens portrait mode photos were made possible by its adoption of a dual-pixel sensor — meaning each pixel can be used to both record the image and determine focus rather than just one or the other. Some of Samsung's handsets already feature the technology, but Google has built on it with proprietary software to make it possible to create a depth map for photos, which can be used to add special effects.”

Google is not just making hardware. Another characteristic of the Google Pixel 2 phone is the ability to call for the Google Assistant artificial intelligence helper by pressing on the handset’s sides. This artificial intelligence helper rivals Apple’s Siri.

Kelion stated that, “The firm suggested this made it easier to activate, adding that it had trained the software to only pay attention to deliberate squeezes. In addition, the OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screens now automatically show the name of a song if it is heard playing in the surrounding area.”

Google also revealed new wireless earbuds called Pixel Buds. Pixel Buds are capable of language translation and playing songs by voice instruction.

The Pixel 2 begins at $650 while the bigger Pixel 2XL starts at $850.

In addition to a cell phone release, Google released new home products. Google is the creator of the Daydream VR headset, and this virtual reality headset is compatible with the Pixel 2 phone. Google revealed a smaller form of its Home smart speaker. The Home Mini is expected to cost $49, and can respond to both tap-based commands and voice commands. A larger version, the Home Max, was devised for dynamic range. Expected to cost $399, the Home Max has two subwoofers, or loudspeakers that copy low-pitched audio frequencies, for high-class bass. Home Max uses artificial intelligence software to detect where it has been placed in a room and can change its sound balance accordingly.